Flagging Boro Need Lucky Break

THE INTERNATIONAL break couldn’t be better timed for Boro. The Mogganaut looked to be running out of steam for a spell against Coventry in a very ragged start to the second half and suddenly a leaden legged Boro were left chasing a game that should have been in the bag.

Boro dominated in the first 45 and should have been well ahead. At the break, with Derby and Southampton losing, we were on top of the league for the first time since Bryan Robson’s side surged towards promotion in 1997-98 fired up by righteous anger after the three points row.
They game should have been safe by then. Justin Hoyte rattled the woodwork and there were some long spells of pressure that should have yielded more. Even then it was comfortable. But a sluggish start to the second half allowed Coventry to gain a foothold, block Boro’s free passage down the flanks and start to pop up in dangerous areas.
Their equaliser was scrappy and a bit spawny. Carl Ikeme did well to come out and connect with a good ball in but his punch fell short leaving unmarked O’Donovan to get a shot off. Even then McManus did well to slide in and block but a freak rebound looped up kindly – we are in Secret Millionaire territory here – for Jutkiewicz to bundle home. It was their only real chance.
A year ago Coventry would have pushed on to win. But this is a different Boro. We finished in charge again and should have salvaged it. Hoyte broke into the box then inexplicably stumbled as the enormity of being in the box and bearing down on goal struck, Bennett fired into the side netting when he had options on, Robson and McMahon spurned decent efforts and at the death Faris Haroun nodded onto angle of bar and post. We should have won.
But it was a game too far for a thin squad after a busy month. It is hard to keep up the tempo they set in games for the full 90, and it is hard for Marvin Emnes to do all the work on his own up front. He is fast and tricky and can hold the ball up well and create space but without extra bodies bursting into the box there are very few options on. He needs support.
The team were adequate without sparking into the kind of life we saw at Barnsley. They pressed without having the zest of recent weeks. Julio Arca looked off the pace. Rhys Williams looked a bit short. It was just a little bit flat. But August has been a tough month. Seven games with roughly the same first 14 or so players has been demanding – but productive.
That we come away disappointed from a draw at the end of an unbeaten August shows exactly how far our expectations have been transformed. Before the season started most Boro fans were digging in for a long hard mid-table slog. In fact we have been flying. And enjoying entertaining football played at pace and with purpose. We have been allowed a glimpse of hope and ambition, which is always dangerous.
The break comes at a good time. It will allow tired legs to rest, bumps and bruises to heal, batteries to be recharged. It will allow Scott McDonald to be patched up and the gaffer to bring in another striker (or two) and if there is another one out – Bates seems favourite – maybe also to fine-tune at the back too.
We could have been top tonight. We are not and that is disappointing – but let’s be honest, if at the start we were offered fourth place, an unbeaten start, and stats like six away wins on the bounce and one defeat in 19 and some of the revelatory football we have seen, we would all have snatched their bloody hands off.


75 thoughts on “Flagging Boro Need Lucky Break

  1. Villa alledgedly moving in for Rhys Williams. Wouldn’t be surprised if we lost him by tomorrow night to someone.
    Past two or three games he hasn’t looked as thought his heart was in it, especially against Coventry.

  2. Just as well the transfer window is about to close otherwise we’d have nothing to talk about.
    looks like Swansea have no option but to go for Bates now their man has a broken leg, their desperation might stick a few quid on the fee.
    Rhys Williams won’t go he’s the replacement for Bates as centre back, I cant see Mogga selling Emnes either.
    Hold on tight its gonna be a roller coaster ride for the next 36 hours!

  3. Did Rhys Williams ever sign a new deal? Much talked about but it never seemed to happen.
    If not, why on earth not? He is our player of the greatest potential. By all means sacrifice Bates if it means Williams can stay on a longer term basis.
    I know it’s not easy but this is one that has to be tied up.

  4. Squad should stay together until January.
    Anybody going now will make it very hard to replace and leave us even thinner on the ground.
    Looks like last season, skipper out in August and no replacement. That was when the season changed.
    I do realise that some players need to go but time has run out. We should stick with what we have until January.

  5. Just thought. Won’t Rhys Williams be in/on his way to Brisbane for Australia’s game there on Saturday?
    If so, is a medical and meet the manager out of the question at Villa or elsewhere?
    And can’t he take Marvin on the plane with him?

  6. Crunch 36 hours for Boro’s season coming up. How much is promotion to the premier league worth these days, by whatever route? £50m?
    Getting £8m for Emnes, £6m for Williams and £2m for Bates could result in a mid table finish or worse.
    Say no to the money now and just maybe we can make the play offs.
    We all understood the cloth cutting over the last 18 months but now we are at the business end of the transfer window. Are we a football team for the region or are we a business? I hope the football people are the ones that are making the decisions from here on in and that the banks don’t have a say.
    Roll on 00:01:00 on 1st September!

  7. Some on here need to get real.
    You dont ever go through a season with a home record of played 23 won 23. There will be days when we dont get the result at home we should and it wont always be the best opponents that sneak away undefeated.
    The trick is to get draws and not lose those days.
    Our two cup runs were just as important as the three points in our relegation that season. We hardly ever won on a Saturday after our big midweek cup ties and some of the worst performances that season came after the cup in midweek.
    If Cov had any sort of containment plan before the kick off it would be to bide their time and hope to be stil in touch for a mlate push when our legs would be heavier after our midweek game when they had the day off. It would be a poor opposing manager who didnt plan for that situation.
    Most concern for me is the form of Bennett. Without Taylor covering for him he looks a major weakness.

  8. So Bates, Emnes and Williams are all being linked with pre-deadline moves to the PL.
    I’m not sure if I can see the logic in selling any players who are capable of playing in the PL – what happens if this season goes to plan and we do actually get promoted? Surely we’d then need at least 10 PL quality players – but where would the money come from if we started with none?
    Though if you sell your best players then perhaps the problem will not arise as you won’t get promoted!
    So Gibson needs to decide if we’re going for promotion or not – only Bates is on PL wages and in the last year of his contract – the others are surely too important to risk selling now. Plus their value will likely increase if they have a good season.

  9. Some very interesting points of view after a tired looking display.
    However, in the bigger scheme of things the most important word in my book is ‘unbeaten’.

  10. JMc – I reckon if Boro were to receive offers of £8m & £6m respectively for Emnes and Williams they’d take the money, every player has a price.

  11. Steve McClaren, speaking after Forest’s defeat by West Ham said that “what happens over the next few days will determine how ambitious this football club is.”
    No truer words spoken in respect of Forest and the same applies if not more so to the Boro.

  12. Nigel –
    I agree those numbers are in the silly bracket but £14m deposited in the bank right at the end of a transfer window is not much good to you in January if you are in the wrong half of the Championship.
    Even if we could get some Premier League rejects in as loan deals how can we guarantee the fit. Plus surely a £1m loan fee for a Premier stiff is a waste of money we don’t have. If we are going to spend any money we get in should we not be looking to get an asset with a resale value to us not his parent club in return?
    Strichen and Mogga have acted to prove that expensive players don’t necessarily make for a good side. Mogga has shown that passion, ethos and commitment to the cause are worth far more on the pitch than international or premier pedigree.
    I think only silly bids should be considered if we are to breakup the spirit and the feel good factor in the current squad. If in doubt, stick with what you’ve got!

  13. Question:
    Nicky Maynard – age 24 – 11 months left on contract. Three goals so far this season. Valued at £6m
    Marvin Emnes – age 23 – three years left on contract. Seven goals so far this season. Valued at £?m
    Do market forces exist when it comes to Boro?

  14. It’s been far too long since my last post here, but that’s what having a one year old to amuse does to you I suppose. Luckily, I managed to get to the Riverside on Saturday, as we timed her birthday party just nicely for that morning.
    I was delighted with the first half display. Coventry barely looked likely to get into our box, let alone score a goal. They showed the lovely free flowing play that really should be enticing more fans back to the home games.
    One thing that has not been mentioned reference the attendances is the input of the away side to the total. I doubt that Coventry had over 100 fans in their end on Saturday. Outside was parked ONE coach for their fans – which tells you a lot. In the PL we regularly saw over 2,000 in the away end, where I suspect only dirty Leeds (to give them their full title) would manage a similar turnout this season.
    Second half saw our now customary slow start. Coventry were allowed back into the game through our much diminished efforts, though they still barely looked like troubling the keeper. Which leads me nicely onto my next point – has anyone seen Ikeme make a decent save for the Boro yet ?
    As far as I can see, pretty much every shot on target since his arrival has ended up in the back of the net. I really fail to see how he offers anything more than Coyne. I do think he commands his area well and has good distribution. Unfortunately, in the area of shot stopping he seems to be well behind Steele, Coyne and probably even Ripley. Mogga obviously doesn’t trust Coyne, but I would consider it sensible to let Ikeme go, free his wages from the weekly bill and start with Coyne until Steele returns.
    Another who has under performed this season is Joe Bennett. His body language betrayed a lack of confidence during the game, and he spent most of the second half on the touchline receiving instructions from the coaching team. It certainly suggested that they were unhappy with his input, much like a few fellow posters on here were. He never looked like he believed that he had the beating of his full back, which probably explained his continual cutting inside instead of attempting to take him on.
    Overall, with the two misses by Hoyte and the lacklustre first 20 second half minutes, I fully expected the equaliser to happen. It was a little like the Southgate years, where we had plenty of possession and chances, but could never find the killer second goal. You tend to be punished in those circumstances, which is exactly what happened in the end.
    I know it’s still early days, but the capture of Haroun is looking like quite a coup. Considering that we got him for free on (supposedly) average Championship wages, he has looked like a particularly good acquisition. He should only improve as he get’s used to the league and his team mates.
    I certainly suspected that Mogga was softening us up for the departure of Bates last week when he was talking about Swansea’s initial inquiry. The underlying point seemed to be that given a big enough bid, we would be happy to let him (and his relatively high wage) go and re-invest the fee in other areas of the team. Paper talk today of a £2m bid probably being accepted was not a real surprise to any of us who saw Mogga’s words as a warning that it was likely.
    With it being silly season for transfer rumours, both Rhys Williams and Emnes are linked with numerous PL teams today. How things change though. It was only a month ago that we quoted Swansea £5m to secure both Lita and Emnes. Now though, Emnes is “£5m rated” according to the Daily Mail.
    Funnily enough, if any club in Europe had offered £2m for Emnes 12 months ago, Mr Strachan would have bitten their hand off. Joe Bennett was available for £250K under Strachan, if my memory serves me correctly. Not only did that man waste millions in his acquisition of the likes of Boyd and Miller, he very nearly cost us much more, had he been able to ship out these unproven gems for the peanuts he considered them to be worth !
    If Bates goes, and we manage to recruit Jutkiewicz (yes I did have to copy and paste that to spell it correctly) plus possibly one other, then I have faith that Mogga will have done what is right to strengthen his side.
    Still unbeaten this season, we didn’t really need the added pressure of going top early on and heaping extra pressure on the lads. I’m happy to simply be right up the top of the league and looking likely to have a good season. Some of the early front runners will fall away badly as happens every year. Let’s just hope we are not one of them – UTB
    **AV writes: Good post. Welcome back. I was talking to some shrewd fans before the game on Saturday about the advantages of flying below the radar… not making teams of the week, being well down the list on the Football League running order, not attracting attention from the nationals. Let them all continue with the easy intros of the Sven/Mac/Fat Sam soap. We’ll ghost in at the far post.

  15. SKY are hoping to improve their viewing figures at 11pm tomorrow night, when Jim White’s head explodes live on TV as the transfer window closes!

  16. I would be surprised if we were offered the £8m and £6m mentioned by JMc for Emnes and Rhys Williams. I do think, however, they could BOTH be worth more than those sums to Boro if things go right this season.
    £2m for Bates doesn’t seem ridiculous, though, and I might be inclined to take that with only a year to go on his contract and bearing in mind his injury record. But we could hardly sell both Bates and Rhys W.
    I agree that Rhys seems the best prospect of any of our “young” players. His injury record in the last couple of years hasn’t been too good, either. I also agree he didn’t play particularly well in the last game. I hope that was just “one of those things”. If we did manage the dream and were promoted, he is one of the players you could imagine making the transition to become a Premier League regular.
    If we didn’t keep Rhys, we’d have to buy one like him, and that might not be easy and would not be cheap. I’d bet we would have to spend more to replace him with a “like for like” player than we’d get if we sold Rhys, so it doesn’t make sense to sell him at this stage. Now, if we fell away badly, and didn’t even look like a mid-table team later this season, we might sell him. Hopefully that will not happen.
    So, in short, if we have to sell a defender out of Rhys or Bates, I’d prefer not to sell either but could live with its being Bates more easily than if it were Rhys Williams. Bates is probably paid more, anyway – maybe one of the last of our Premier League wage earners. Emnes is doing well this season and, if there is to be a challenge at the top of the table, we need him to continue as he has started. To sell him now could cost us far more in the long run (ie years in this division).
    And, by the way, I thought it was written in the Club Rules that we made offers for any player that has a good game against us, or who scores a goal against us (even if that was the only thing he did). Presumably even in these straitened times we can match Coventry’s purse/salary structure without getting an angry letter from the Bank Manager.

  17. ….and back to the Untypical Boro Book club:
    I can’t remember who it must have been (Richard? HalifaxP…..?), but someone on this blog a couple of months ago must have mentioned some sporting books that might be worth a read over the summer. Well, Mrs Dormo has obvioulsy paid attention, because, quite out of the blue, even though a couple of weeks late for a birthday, some books have materialised on the doorstep.
    “Clough & Revie” by Roger Hermiston.
    “Of Didcot and the Demon – The Cricketing Times of Alan Gibson” by Anthony Gibson.
    “A Long Half Hour” by Stephen Chalke.
    I’d like to quote from the last named book (and this comes from a quick squint at the book because obviously I haven’t read it yet), there is a piece about Arthur Milton, who played cricket for Gloucestershire and six Test Matches for England in 1958/59, and football for Arsenal (and later Bristol City), playing football for England in an international against Austria in 1951. He was the last man to have played for the international team at both sports, and when he retired he became a postman. In the book there is quoted a conversation with him:
    “Do you realise, Arthur….if you were young today, with your looks and your sporting talent, you’d be a millionnaire?”
    “He would look….with a contented smile, perhaps even with a tinge of pity that they had not come to that point of inner peace which he had reached.”
    “I’ve been married for 50 years,” he would reply, “I’ve got three great boys, they’ve all done well, and I’ve got grandchildren too, now. All my life I’ve had good health, and I was lucky enough to play the games I loved for a living. Out in the sunshine all summer.”
    “And then there were the years in the Post Office. Wonderful years, I learned so much from them. Now I’m up on the Downs each morning, watching the sun come up and the mist rising from the dew on the ground. There’s nowhere I’d rather be.”
    He would pause for a moment…”I am a millionaire.”
    Whoever’s post it was, that Mrs Dormo read some time ago, suggesting the books: thank you. I have some reading to do….

  18. Matt – I agree completely, sitting on the shoulder of the leaders is the perfect place to be at this stage of the season.
    Its somewhat amusing that Emnes is all of a sudden our key player, transformed by Mogga!
    Bennet needs a rest, he’s out of form and definitely low on confidence, buying a left back would seem sensible to me.

  19. I’ll take the blame or the credit whenever it’s justifiable Dormo. On this occasion however, it wasn’t me. I have made reference to some books in this forum on several occasions in the past, but not these ones.
    Mrs Dormo would appear to be more discriminating and in tune with your tastes. Lucky man! “You are a millionnaire.”
    **AV writes: What happened to the impending post from your posh but trigger happy IPad? (My money is on user error)

  20. Dormo, I don’t think it was me either, but Roger Hermiston’s book gives a very interesting snapshot of Boro when Don Revie and Old Big ‘Ead were growing up there and I am sure you will enjoy it!
    Richard – Awww!
    **AV writes: I think it may have been Len Masterman. But don’t quote me on that.

  21. Ian – Surely in this age of technology the Gazette should have a web cam at the gates of Hurworth with a live stream onto the blog. That way I could spend even less time working and more time checking out what was happening!!

  22. Ian Gill at 6.06 on the 29th –
    I think you’re trying to contradict my case but your stats nicely support it. My thesis was: with too small a squad to allow much rotation, key players have to play too many games and they run out of steam.
    You say ‘if Cardiff can do it, so can we’. Yes – but Cardiff missed promotion. They faded badly in the last quarter of the season, which is exactly what I was fearing for Boro.
    What’s more, you’re talking about players who have appeared for only 30+ games. As things stand, if free of injury, we have players who could be called on for nearer 50 games. If he manages to avoid being clogged to death, Emnes is looking at playing over 40 games, some of them up front on his own.
    My point was: let’s recognise that our excellent position is still very early in the season. Let’s not get carried away and develop unrealistic expectations. With such a small squad, it would be a miracle if it could be sustained much into next year, let alone to season end.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s